Tag Archives: royal natal national park

A walk in the Park

There’s no doubt that hiking is the biggest pastime enjoyed by visitors to the Royal Natal National Park. Walking through the mountains allows access to so many beautiful spots. We particularly enjoy the easy trails that lead from the Mahai campsite and visitor centre, like Otto’s walk and the trails to the Cascades and Fairy Glen.

This was the last installment on our December visit to Royal Natal National Park in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg. From here we travelled to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park in Zululand, and from tomorrow we’ll be sharing some of what we experienced there.

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Drakensberg Birding

The varied habitats of the Royal Natal National Park provides excellent habitat for a wide range of bird species. We’ve already introduced you to the rare Bush Blackcap, which is often recorded in the reserve, and the Lesser Striped Swallows that shared our accommodation unit, but there’s so many other feathered inhabitants in the Park that we can dedicate a whole blogpost just to them – in fact, this gallery contains just a few of the more than 60 species we ticked during our December visit!

Breathtaking Mountains

Come rain or shine, and no matter which way you look, the mountain scenery at Royal Natal National Park, dominated by the magnificent cliff face of the Amphitheatre, will take your breath away!

Bush Blackcap

Lioptilus nigricapillus

Our December 2016 visit to Thendele in the Royal Natal National Park afforded us our first opportunity to photograph the Bush Blackcap, a rarely seen endemic South African bird with a very limited distribution along the Eastern Escarpment.

These small birds occur singly or in pairs in the dense canopy of mountain forests and their verges, moving down to coastal forests (and lush gardens) during winter. Breeding takes place in summer. They feed on fruits, berries and insects. The IUCN considers them “near threatened” due to a small population size (estimated at most around 5,000) and threats to their forest habitat.

Squatters at the lodgings

From the moment we arrived at chalet 27 in Thendele Camp in the Royal Natal National Park in December, we just loved the unit’s setting. And we were not the only ones, as a pair of Greater Striped Swallows were diligently building their mud-walled nest on the veranda, quite unconcerned about the humans sitting below them and watching them go about the task.

Drakensberg Dwarf Chameleon

Bradypodion dracomontanum

Just as we arrived at Royal Natal National Park in the Drakensberg for our visit in December, Joubert noticed this laid-back little chameleon resting an elbow on a fence post in the campsite at Rugged Glen.

drakensberg-dwarf-chameleon

Turns out he (or she) is a Drakensberg Dwarf Chameleon, a species found only in the Drakensberg mountain range in Kwazulu-Natal Province, where they inhabit sheltered forests and bushes in alpine vegetation at altitudes of between 1,500 and 2,500m and feed on small insects. They grow to a length of only about 14cm. Interestingly, dwarf chameleon females give birth to between 5 and 20 live young that develop in eggs inside the female (known as ovivivipary).

Enjoying a sunnier Royal Natal

Good evening from a much drier Royal Natal National Park, where we used the opportunity provided by the shining sun to explore some of the myriad trails that traverses this beautiful piece of earth, enjoying scenes like this along the Mahai stream.

royal-natal-21dec16-wp

Tomorrow we’re heading for the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, and may not be able to post regular updates until we get back home to Pretoria (though we will try). If you don’t hear from us again before then, here’s wishing all our friends at de Wets Wild a blessed Christmas!